Avoiding Salicylates
by Claudia Marek

Natural salicylates:

     In 1994, a group of researchers found that all plants make salicylates, and subsequent studies have shown that the amount not only varies greatly between different species, but also from plant to plant. Plants make salicylates to protect themselves from bacteria, and when threatened, greatly increase production, and send messages to nearby plants to do the same!

     Natural salicylates are present in barks, but barks also contain glycosides which are converted by the liver and intestinal tract to other more potent and long-lasting salicylates.  Thus it is impossible to predict how long these herbal remedies remain active in the body, or to accurately give the salicylate content of plants. Several studies have been undertaken to try to measure the salicylate content of foods. There is not one consensus among the various studies, although certain generalities appear to be true. The most comprehensive of these studies is the Australian Salicylate Study, Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 1985 by A. Swain, S. Dutton and A.S. Truswell. (accessible online)

    
While taking guaifenesin, it is not necessary to avoid dietary salicylates which are strongest in berries, fruits (the skin and just under the skin), barks, and herbs and spices. When consumed orally these compounds are somewhat destroyed by the digestive process and further altered by the liver. The average daily intake of salicylate from foods is in the range of 10-200 mg./day. It was recently postulated that this intake of salicylates from foods and food preservatives was enough to account for changes in coronary morbidity statistics, but subsequent studies have refuted this. Salicylates can be measured in the blood and in the urine.

Synthetic Salicylates

      Besides the natural salicylates, you must also avoid the synthetic sources such as aspirin.  Medications are easily identified: if the generic or chemical name of the medication is a salicylate by name then you can't take that drug.  An example would be: Pepto Bismol --chemical name bismuth subsalicylate. As soon as you see the salicylate you know you can't use the product.
 
     Topical synthetic salicylates are: salicylate, salicylic acid, octisalate and homosalate.  The last two of these ingredients are sunscreens.  Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid, so if you see a product with beta hydroxy acid listed, don't use it. 
 
     Check any topical products that would contain an acid: exfoliants, dandruff shampoos, acne medications, etc.  You can't use any that contain salicylic acid.  All other acids are okay to use.
 
Chemicals need to be looked at quickly.  Check them for the tell-tale syllable "SAL."  You also can't use the camphor based or menthol derived chemicals so any chemical such as MENTHOL, MENTHYL ARANTHINATE would not be okay.  Look for the MEN and CAMPH syllables as well.  In sunscreens these include the ingredients Mexoryl and Meradimate.


 
    



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